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  Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure Wicket, Wicket, Jungle Is MassiveBuy this film here.
Year: 1984
Director: John Korty
Stars: Eric Walker, Warwick Davis, Fionnula Flanagan, Guy Boyd, Aubree Miller, Burl Ives, Daniel Frishman, Debbie Lee Carrington, Tony Cox, Kevin Thompson, Margarita Farrell, Pam Grizz, Bobby Bell, Darrell Henriques, Sydney Walker, Nancy Carlin, James Cranna
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, TV Movie
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: While travelling across the galaxy, the Towani family got into difficulty and were forced to crashland on the forest moon of Endor, and somehow have been separated from one another as the parents (Fionnula Flanagan and Guy Boyd) struggle to track their two young children, Mace (Eric Walker) and Cindel (Aubree Miller). The moon is inhabited, however, and nearby to the downed craft there is a tribe of Ewoks, small, bearlike creatures which live a basic, but fairly civilised existence and are not used to seeing visitors. But when little Ewok Wicket (Warwick Davis) hears from his father about the wreck, he is keen to see about helping when Mace and Cindel are found aboard...

Had George Lucas not noted the spending power of parents to boost his company profits to astronomical proportions, we would never have heard of the Ewoks, those most divisive of the alien races in his Star Wars franchise (up until the prequels arrived in 1999, at any rate). Originally Return of the Jedi was set to feature fan favourite character Chewbacca returning home to the planet of his Wookiee brethren and they would have been the tribespeople who assisted in overturning the Empire's hold on the galaxy. But Lucas did not think they had enough child-friendly potential, possibly smarting from the reaction to the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

Therefore the Wookiees were dropped and what were somewhat cynically, you might observe, designed to look like kids' teddy bears were in. The result? The world's younglings loved the little guys, and the world's parents forked out for millions of dollars of Ewok-branded merchandise. Aware he was onto a good thing, Lucas proceeded to outline the plot of a follow-up to the creatures' appearance in Return of the Jedi which turned into this television movie, and a sequel the next year titled Battle for Endor. To maximise those all-important profits, they were both released overseas as theatrical efforts, and by all accounts did respectable business for the audience starved of Star Wars.

It is probably unfair to hold Caravan of Courage to the same standard as the original Star Wars trilogy, and despite Lucas' involvement neither work is regarded as canon now we are in a place where the sequel trilogy exists. What was a problem for those, shall we say, more mature fans of the series was these were not for adult audiences, they knew the Ewoks were cute and they were going to emphasise that as far as they could for the children who would be entertained by witnessing them simply ambling across the screen no matter what they were getting up to. No other characters from the main franchise appeared, so as much as you might have wanted Chewie to show up and participate, it just wasn't going to happen: it was mostly the Ewok party and the two kids consisting the caravan across the moon.

They were looking for the parents, and along the way they encountered selected examples of the puppet makers' art, including a giant spider-thing and a glove puppet that lived in a hollow tree. As this was filmed on Lucas's Skywalker Ranch, there was an "official" tone to much of this, even if it was merely the urge to open the wallets of the grown-ups, but as an adventure it left something to be desired as the plotline adopted the one damn thing after another template and stuck to that for the duration. There was a sense that Lucas was aiming for a mini-Lord of the Rings here, and some of the details had apparent connections to Tolkien though that may have been the filmmaker applying everything he remembered from the hero quest narrative to his cash-in piece. Indeed, you could also note such inclusions as Tinkerbell into the mix, though maybe this and its sequel were best seen as a dry run for Willow, which also starred Davis. Although predictably carrying fan interest, it didn't bear the weight of that expectation too well. Music by Peter Bernstein (and Tony Cox plays a character called Widdle, which really is taking the piss).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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